Have some geese? We’ll make gumbo

Have some geese? We’ll make gumbo

The South Texas whitetail deer season will close on Jan. 15. There are 30 Texas counties that are affected by the season closing. After that, the spike and antlerless season will continue in 209 North Texas counties. The antlerless and spike season will be from Jan. 16 through 29 in 30 South Texas counties. The spike and doe extended seasons are normally used as management tools where the buck-doe ration is not stable and where there are excessive numbers of spike bucks that are breeding more spike bucks. Be sure to check with the landowners or their representative before heading out for one of the late extended season hunts. Muzzleloader season also closes Jan. 15.

There seems to be a good number of snow and blue geese still holding in states north of us. With the large numbers of them that are in our area, it’s hard to believe that there are still more to come. Arkansas is in the Mississippi flyway, and the rice fields in that state are holding many thousands of those birds.

Over the years of hunting both ducks and geese, I have been aware that specklebelly geese and Canada geese will likely have a layer of fat between the skin and the flesh. This makes for some excellent table fare. The snow and blue geese normally do not have that layer of fat. That has not been what I have observed this year. I’ve cleaned some snow and blue geese that actually had fat on their breast and around their gizzards. These geese that are numerous hereabouts and show up often in the waterfowler’s bag have long been considered less palatable than many of the other birds.

Just by chance several years ago, I leaned that these snow geese that were not a choice for the table are actually great when used in several dishes. For instance, duck or goose gumbo, my favorite, is best made with the more gamey tasting birds. The tasty gumbo is best when smoked sausage is added to it. By slow cooking the goose and sausage in a roux with onions and celery along with pepper to taste, the result is legendary. My personal choice is to also add cut okra and enough filé to add to the flavor. If you haven’t tried the goose gumbo and you have access to some of those birds, then don’t fail to give it a try. By the way, the breast meat of these birds is most often used in the gumbo. The thighs and drumsticks are very meaty and much milder in flavor than the breast. The gizzard, liver and heart may be cooked until they are tender and turned into what we call dirty rice.

The gumbo is popular with a good number of local folks, but there is another way to prepare the snow and blue goose breast meat that is lip smacking good. Chicken fried breast is not only mild flavored, but it is also tender, and even the most picky eater will enjoy it. Cut the breast slabs into pieces about two fingers wide. Cut it across the grain. It’s OK to fry it fresh, but if you plan to wait until later to do that, soak it in a mixture of milk and water.

For frying, place the chunks on a cutting board and use a tenderizer mallet to flatten it out. Use whatever seasoning that you would use on beef cutlets. Then dredge it though a milk-and-egg batter just as you would the cutlets. Next dredge it through all purpose flour and fry it in a deep fryer, again just as you would the cutlets. When it is done, the goose breast filets will float and will be golden brown. Most of the folks that I have offered it to say that it tastes much like beef.

Earlier I mentioned specklebelly and Canada geese. A favorite method for preparing them along with mallard, pintail, teal and wood ducks is the same as the geese. Simply chop enough onion, pepper and celery to fill the cavity. Salt and pepper the birds before filling it with these vegetables. Next season the outside and place the bird or birds in a heavy pot, cover it, and put it in a 260 degree oven for three or four hours or until the flesh seems to pull away the breast bone. When they are done, remove them from the roaster and pour off the fat that has been rendered. Then put one or two cups of raw rice into the pot and slowly brown it. If the rice is too dry, I add a little olive oil. Once the rice is slightly brown, add enough chicken broth to it and cook the rice as directed on the label. Once the rice is finished cooking, place the birds on it, cover it, and put it in the oven for 15 minutes at 260 degrees . This recipe has been a favorite for many years. It is important to use only the birds with fat on their breast and no pin feathers.

Don’t shy away from waterfowl. They will cook up well.

Tune in to KSET 1300 at 6 p.m. on Thursdays for Billy Halfin Outdoors and listen to the updates daily at 7:25 a.m., 12:25 p.m. and 6:25 p.m.